Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Lairgren and Deoch

By Helena Nelson-Reed

My Facebook post for the day:

Bloody Nora. Some strange things happen when I write books. This ranks high on the list. 
I've been working so much lately, I haven't had half a chance to write. Which is upsetting as I'm within sight of the end of my next novel (longest one yet! Woop, woop!). 
It's a retelling of an Irish legend. The problem with Irish legends is that the time frame is all over the place. Sometimes gods are people, sometimes they turn up in different stories hundreds of years apart. Sometimes they feature prominently then never again. 
This particular story spans a period of 900 years, from the old gods to the new. As with Rosy Hours, I had to take a rough stab at when this story was supposed to have started. And, as with Rosy Hours, I started working backwards. I knew where the story ended, and I knew that location had to have been Christianised by then. Fairly straightforward. Even though working backwards 900 years still leaves me about 1,000 years short of the Tuatha Dé Danann and the legendary God-King this all begins with. 
As so often happens with a good story, let's just gloss over that. Chalk it up to 'creative license' (after all, the Christian scholars did) and move on. 
I've just sat down to steal five minutes' more research. I'm moving into the final chapters. The curse is supposed to be broken when: 'the Woman from the South and the Man from the North will come together.' 
In the translation, this is given as Lairgren King of Connacht, son of Colman, son of Cobthach, and Deoch, daughter of Finghin. 
Now, there is a Laidgnén King of Connacht c. 655, but it makes no mention of a wife and he had no known descendants. Rather unsatisfactory for a love affair strong enough to shatter a 900-year curse. 
Bearing in mind my time frame was a complete guestimate, you can imagine my surprise to look up the High King of Ireland for the end date I'd plucked out of the air, only to discover that the High King of Ireland was not only a Prince of the North, ruling a Kingdom called In Tuaiscert ("the North") but married a woman from modern day County Carlow - undeniably (from the picture below) - in the South. 
Sometimes stories want to be told so badly, they invent themselves.

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